To the despair of dictionary sellers across the land, George Pringle is no longer a diseuse. She’s a singer. The change in delivery method also marks a change in content. So, to the despair of the inexplicably nosey across the land, she’s also a lot more backward about coming forward.
Gulfo Dei Poeti, her second album, reins in the tell-all monologues from her (under appreciated) debut and presents something more minimal. Which goes towards making a dreamy, pensive record that is less cluttered and more thoughtful than her earlier work.
It’s still resolutely done-it-herself, and while that has a tendency to suggest a certain scrappiness, that isn’t the case here. There are frequent demonstrations on how to do quite a lot with not very much: the opening track, London My Lonely Smoke Ring, begins with what could be the low resonation of someone blowing over the world’s deepest pan pipe before Pringle’s metallic sounding voice bounces around in disembodied fashion.
Then everything drops away into a pregnant pause, before returning in a blast of vibrant noise. It’s really quite neat. It’s one of several occasions where Pringle makes doing very little look very clever indeed. Diamond Life is another, which for the vast majority of its running time is just Pringle cooing over the top of a series of single-finger synth lines, all of which reveal themselves in serialised fashion.
There’s something cinematic about it. The pacing, the build and the interaction of the various elements of Real As Sound interact are reminiscent of a John Carpenter soundtrack – ominous and pensive. There are also certain echoes of The xx and James Blake in the spacious throbs and melancholy textures, but there’s something more human in Pringle’s world. It’s the melodrama. Which like the debut, is laid on quite thick, and if taken at face value would be slightly self-obsessed. But there’s always been a tongue-in-cheek slyness to Pringle which seemed to occasionally get missed, blinded no doubt by the barrage of haughty vowels.
So be it the Madonna-on-sea refrain of Piazza Principle (“strike a pose / by the coast”) or Mad Bad And Dangerous To Know’s pointed suggestions that tragedy is when she cuts her finger, but comedy is when we run out of booze and are forced to drink créme de cassis, there’s a humour to the drama. Sometimes not entirely obvious, but Golfo Dei Poeti is not an obvious album.
But it is one that, in a subtle, oblique way, longs to escape. Preferably to somewhere warm and surrounded by water. Which might well make it the most universal release of the year so far.
Golfo Dei Poeti is out now digitally, with a vinyl release to follow later in 2013.